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Product Review
 
TYT  MD-2017
 
Dual Band
DMR Handheld
TDMA Tier I / II

VHF / UHF

 
 
June 2017
Rev. July 2017

 

 
 
 
MD-2017

The TYT MD-2017 is a true Dual Band band (UHF / VHF) DMR handheld that can be used as either an FM analog transceiver or Tier II  DMR digital.
 
 
In the Box

Included with the radio are the:
-  2200mAh Li-Ion Battery
-  73 page User Guide – English
-  Charger base & AC adapter
-  Belt clip
-  Antenna – 6" (15cm) 
-  Driver and Software CD
-  Programming Cable
 
 
General Description
-  VHF / UHF Dual Band
-  DMR / FM
-  1W / 5W transmit
-  3000 channel
-  10,000 contacts
 
 
Dual Band Operation
 
This is obviously the radio's biggest advantage, but please read the entire review.

When programming the zones for this radio, there are two sets of 64 channels for each zone. 64 channels for the upper display, and 64 for the lower. My configuration is for DMR UHF on one display, and the local VHF analog on the other.
When a channel becomes active, that channel is selected and remains selected until clear.
 
 

Transmitter
 
The frequency range is both VHF 136-174 and UHF 400-480 MHz. Along with DMR, the radio also supports FM, both Wide and Narrowband and is FCC Part 90 certified.
 
OTA audio reports are excellent and power levels on analog were respectable. Rated at 5W, the radios put out closer to 4W on the ham bands into a calibrated Bird Termaline wattmeter.
 
MD-2017 VHF
146
VHF
165
UHF
449
UHF
460
High 4.2 4.7 4.1 4.0
Low 1.4 1.2 1.0 1.0
Receiver
 
The receiver sensitivity is very good on both digital and analog. I found the audio quality is clear, loud, and undistorted. The radio has the characteristic tone option that will let you know the signal has dropped.
 
 
Audio
 
The audio is full and loud with excellent frequency response.  The major advantage of DMR is the audio quality. Noisy signals no longer exist. If a signal has enough strength to be heard by the receiver, it is digitally processed where all noise is eliminated and what would be a noisy signal on FM now sounds as though the person is standing right next to you.
 
 
Enclosure

The MD-2017 case has a solid feel, weight, and durability that gives the impression that if the radio is dropped, the concrete would crack before the case would.  It weighs in at a hefty 10.2 oz (289g) with the battery attached. The battery removal design makes battery replacement quick and easy. A slight pull on the Open tab releases the latch on the bottom and the battery slides off very smoothly.
 
I do have a concern about the durability of the hinged clip. If the radio is dropped and the clip fractures, the case has no way of holding the battery in place. 
I also found the PTT switch required noticeably more pressure as compared to other radios I have. The MD380, TD9800, and XPR7550 for example require a much lighter press to key the transmitter.


Trackball

 
Here's a new "feature" that I really question. I found it slow responding and inconsistent. When I swipe left/right, it changes channel at a rate of one channel per second, periodically changing too far. Changing channels while driving can be more of a distraction than texting. I tried once and never again. I also found that if I lift the radio and my hand touches the trackball, there's a good chance I just changed the channel.
 
Antenna

The included dual band antenna is 6" which is a fairly common size for a handheld. The wider base helps with the waterproofing properties of the radio.
 
Although the standard antenna seemed to do a respectable job, using the RSSI reading from a UHF repeater 15 miles up the road, I found that there was a very noticeable improvement by using an upgraded antenna. If you are close enough to your local repeater, I would use the stock antenna, but if you're on the fringe, you may want an upgrade.
 
   MD-2017 antenna    -111 dBm
   Standard Dual Band    -108 dBm
   15" Dual Band    -102 dBm
 
The antenna base design is much wider than a standard antenna, and you can feel the solid waterproof seal when tightening which also adds additional stability to the antenna.
 
Be cautious, however, if using a replacement antenna. The connector on the radio is a bit longer than most and a different antenna may not screw all the way to the base. This could fracture the connector if the replacement antenna meets with a heavy impact. If the new antenna does not screw down to the base, a grommet or spacer is recommended.
 
 
Update: Unfortunately, several stations have reported that the above concern has become reality. The connector has fractured under stress.
 
 
Display

 
The radio has a multicolor display. The main background is a sky blue with multicolor icons. The screen size is 1.1" x 1.4" with excellent resolution .
 
Programming

If you are entering the world of DMR for the first time, be aware that programming a digital radio is a lot different than an FM transceiver. Although the FM side is similar, the digital side requires a bit more in depth knowledge. I recommend that you find someone in your area that can help by supplying an initial template to start you on the right path. I've done code plugs for several radios over the past years and although the software may vary, the basic code plug procedure is the same for most.

 
Software 

This radio can be programmed via the front panel, but this is not for the faint of heart. The factory software is fairly straight forward, but again, contains terminology that may require a bit of research. A little intimidating at first, but call it a basic learning experience.
 
 
Firmware
 
The MD-2017 was introduced in the US in May 2017, and the TYT factory firmware is fully upgradable, so you will always have availability to the latest version. The firmware upgrades can be done with a Windows computer in about 5 minutes.
 
 
Programming Cable
 
The programming cable is a bit unique but helps with the waterproofing capabilities of the radio. The UART chip is in the radio, not the cable. When the cable was plugged into my PC, the proper driver loaded automatically.
 
Battery and Charger
 
I was a bit disappointed with the life of the battery. I turn my radio on in the morning around 8AM. By 7-8PM, the battery was ready for a recharge. This was with the LCD off and No transmitting.
I checked the manual and apparently this is expected. The radio draws 180mAh on standby. This is a bit high as many transceivers only draw about 75mAh.

          2200mAh battery / 180mAh standby = 12.2 hours.

The 2017 draws 1.6A when transmitting analog and 900mAh DMR which will reduce battery life additionally. My recommendation is to run low power and purchase a spare battery to take you through the entire day.

The charger base itself requires a standard 12vdc wall wart (included). The LED bar on the front of the charger is unmistakable.  Red when charging, and Green when either fully charged or no radio in the cradle.
 
  
Conclusion

 
For TYT's first attempt at a dual band digital transceiver, I think they did a pretty good job.
The obvious pros are the following:

-  True Tier II DMR
-  Dual Band VHF/UHF operation

My personal concerns are the:

-  Trackball
-  Short Battery Life
-  PTT pressure
-  Battery Clip Fracture
-  Antenna connector fracture

The MD-2017 is solidly built, but not without a few concerns. There are plenty of options geared more for hams than commercial use. It performs well and makes a nice addition to the ham shack.
 
 
Available from:  MTC Radio GrapevineAmazon
 
 

 
TYT  MD-2017
Dual Band DMR

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